Effects of intra-fraction motion on IMRT dose delivery: Statistical analysis and simulation

Thomas Bortfeld, Kimmo Jokivarsi, Michael Goitein, Jong Kung, Steve B. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

443 Scopus citations


There has been some concern that organ motion, especially intra-fraction organ motion due to breathing, can negate the potential merit of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). We wanted to find out whether this concern is justified. Specifically, we wanted to investigate whether IMRT delivery techniques with moving parts, e.g., with a multileaf collimator (MLC), are particularly sensitive to organ motion due to the interplay between organ motion and leaf motion. We also wanted to know if, and by how much, fractionation of the treatment can reduce the effects. We performed a statistical analysis and calculated the expected dose values and dose variances for volume elements of organs that move during the delivery of the IMRT. We looked at the overall influence of organ motion during the course of a fractionated treatment. A linear-quadratic model was used to consider fractionation effects. Furthermore, we developed software to simulate motion effects for IMRT delivery with an MLC, with compensators, and with a scanning beam. For the simulation we assumed a sinusoidal motion in an isocentric plane. We found that the expected dose value is independent of the treatment technique. It is just a weighted average over the path of motion of the dose distribution without motion. If the treatment is delivered in several fractions, the distribution of the dose around the expected value is close to a Gaussian. For a typical treatment with 30 fractions, the standard deviation is generally within 1% of the expected value for MLC delivery if one assumes a typical motion amplitude of 5 mm (1 cm peak to peak). The standard deviation is generally even smaller for the compensator but bigger for scanning beam delivery. For the latter it can be reduced through multiple deliveries ('paintings') of the same field. In conclusion, the main effect of organ motion in IMRT is an averaging of the dose distribution without motion over the path of the motion. This is the same as for treatments with conventional beams. Additional effects that are specific to the IMRT delivery technique appear to be relatively small, except for the scanning beam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2203-2220
Number of pages18
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 7 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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